ITC's contribution to the AfCFTA
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is considered one of Africa's most innovative approach to continental integration. This is supposed to provide economic and social benefits for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), women and youth.To be able to finally achieve these, it requires well calculated steps and strategy to unleash the desired economic and social benefits for the continent.
As a strong advocate of MSMEs, women and youth, the International Trade Centre (ITC) is well positioned to support the AfCFTA by providing capacity building and advisory services that will enhance a continental business environment, strengthen national and regional trade support institutions and improve the competitiveness of MSMEs, women and youth. With immense practical and valuable experience, ITC's role in supporting Africa at a critical juncture of continental integration is timely.
In 2020, thanks to the resources allocated, ITC was able to demonstrate the relevance of its expertise. ITC has led a number of regional and national hybrid workshops where key stakeholders (AfCFTA SG, Heads of RECs, Trade Commissioners, Chief negotiators, CEOs, EU ambassadors as well as senior managers from bilateral and multilateral partners) were able to join and address MSMEs, youth and women on the opportunities offered by the new single market and the barriers to be overcome.
In 2020, ITC organized 3 hybrid events in Dakar, Yaoundé and Nairobi with a view to sensitize and engage the private sector in the AfCFTA. For each event, ITC was able to mobilize respective Governments and RECS (the ECOWAS, EAC and ECCAS).
Each workshop ended with a Declaration from the private sector on how to best benefit from the AfCFTA and highlighted some specific priorities to be addressed at national, regional and continental levels.
The summary of each event as well as media coverage report are available under ITC ONE TRADE AFRICA webpage.
In addition, two publications were produced:
1. AfCFTA benefits for youth entrepreneurs
2. Leveraging AfCFTA opportunities through E-commerce
The publications are currently being reviewed by the ITC's publication team within CE/OED.
In terms of communication, a number of activities aiming at increasing our positioning and visibility were held with journalists across Africa to introduce our existing products relevant for the AfCFTA implementation and to promote our new ONE TRADE AFRICA programme currently under development.
In 2021, based on the feedback received from the various events organized across Africa and taking into consideration the WP of the newly established AfCFTA secretariat, we are going to:
(i) Increase awareness on the AfCFTA opportunities for MSMEs, women and youth through hybrid events (Harare and Rabat regional workshops)
(ii) Organize thematic workshops on the rules of origin and other topics that are included in phase 2 of the negotiations (particularly E-commerce and investments)
(iii) Finalize the communication strategy of ITC ONE TRADE AFRICA programme
In order to address the ad hoc requests from beneficiaries and remain, the proposed activities can be adjusted.
The main outputs to be delivered:
Output 1: MSMEs and youth entrepreneurs sensitized on the importance of e-commerce
Output 2: Business support organizations (at both national and regional levels) updated on opportunities to access the new African single market
Output 3: "One Trade Africa" Initiative well positioned across Africa with African institutions (both at national and regional levels), UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral development partners
Since 2021, a number of activities aiming at contributing to outputs 1 and 3 were launched. The last workshop took place on 30 March 2021 in Rabat with the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) and Egypt to explain the benefits of the AfCFTA to MSMEs, women and youth entrepreneurs in North Africa. All Chief negotiators, AfCFTA Director for trade in goods, the President of the African Business Council (ABC) as well as the SG of AMU attended the workshop. Training sessions on E-commerce and trade and market intelligence as well as on How to export under the AfCFTA were delivered. Around 200 pax. attended the event.
Just before the Rabat Forum, ITC has also organized another hybrid workshop in Harare with the Ministry of trade, ZimTrade and OWIT. The meeting has focused on market access opportunities for women entrepreneurs under the AfCFTA regime. The workshop was very successful and gathered a number of national women business associations. The benefits of the AfCFTA for women entrepreneurs was strongly highlighted. Positive feedback was shared with the organizers from the focal point at the European Union, the Netherlands Embassy in Harare as well as the Ministry of women affairs.